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IES, NSF Release Common Ed. Research Guidelines

The Institute of Education Sciences and the National Science Foundation have formally released common guidelines for education research and development.

The guidelines, first previewed back in May, are intended to guide research investment decisions at the U.S. Department of Education's main research agency, and NSF research in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education. They are also supposed to clarify the evidence expected for different types of research proposals from those applying for grants from the agencies.

"By delineating common expectations for study characteristics," the agencies say in the joint report, "it is hoped that each agency will be better able to build on the investments of the other and to see its own investments reap greater return in improved and tested education practices and policy."

The guidelines identify six types of research that make up an ongoing cycle of building evidence in education:

Foundational research tests, develops or refines theories or methods of teaching and learning.
Early-stage or exploratory research studies relationships to identify connections that may provide a basis for interventions; these usually establish correlations, not causes.
Design and development research draws on established theory and connections to create an intervention or strategy to meet a particular goal, such as improving student mastery of a skill.
Efficacy research looks at the effects of a particular policy, program or intervention under an "ideal condition." It would be likely to use experimental design to establish the aspects of an intervention that have different effects, but it may not translate to all contexts.
Effectiveness research looks at the effectiveness of an intervention or strategy under common or "typical" contexts.
Scale-up research looks at how and why an intervention's effects change in different contexts or with different types of teachers or students.

The full report gives detailed guidelines for the types of evidence that would be required for each type of research, and how they interact with each other.

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